In the first test of new, wide-reaching rules that give National Assembly President Heng Samrin the power to decide who is allowed to enter the assembly grounds, a prominent government critic was allowed to meet with the parliamentary Anti-Corruption Commission on Friday.
Following his extradition from Thailand to Cambodia on Tuesday, convicted British pedophile David Fletcher, 67, was on Wednesday sent to Phnom Penh’s Prey Sar prison to serve a 10-year sentence for raping a 16-year-old girl in 2009.
“This morning, the British pedophile was transported to Prey Sar’s Correctional Center 1 in Phnom Penh,” Hin Sophal, Banteay Meanchey provincial prison chief, said Wednesday.
Mr. Sophal said Fletcher had crossed into Cambodia from Thailand at the Poipet border checkpoint on Tuesday evening, and was detained overnight at the provincial prison.
Lieutenant General Keo Vanthan, the director of Interpol’s office in Cambodia, confirmed yesterday evening that Fletcher was now at Prey Sar.
In May 2011, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court sentenced Fletcher in absentia to 10 years in prison for the rape of a 16-year-old girl in 2009.
Fletcher, who once ran an unregistered charity and riverside restaurant in Phnom Penh, fled to Thailand in 2010 after a British tabloid newspaper alleged that he was using the NGO to groom underage victims for sex.
When Fletcher was arrested in Thailand, Cambodian authorities requested his extradition, but Fletcher filed an appeal. In July, the Thai Court of Appeal upheld Cambodia’s request and proceedings to return the pedophile to Cambodia began.
Bryony Mathew, deputy head of mission at the British Embassy in Phnom Penh, said the embassy was aware that Fletcher had returned to Cambodia and would be providing “consular assistance.”
Samleang Seila, country director of anti-pedophile NGO Action Pour les Enfants, praised authorities for following through with their request for Fletcher’s extradition.
“We are satisfied with…this extradition. Even if it took so much time, we are happy it was done,” Mr. Seila said.
Fletcher is the first pedophile ever to be sent back to Cambodia to serve a sentence.
Andrew Drummond, a Bangkok-based British freelance journalist who traveled to Cambodia in 2010 to investigate Fletcher—then running The Rubbish Dump Project, which fed and sheltered children living at the Stung Meanchey landfill—yesterday recalled meeting the pedophile in Phnom Penh.
Mr. Drummond said by telephone from Thailand that Fletcher seemed “not unstable at all, [but] scheming, very clever.”
In an article he wrote for the British Sunday Mirror tabloid, Mr. Drummond accused Fletcher —who in 1997 was sentenced by a U.K. court to 18 months in prison for the statutory rape of a 15-year-old—of using his charity to groom young girls and their families for eventual sexual abuse.
The story quotes the mother of one such girl who admitted to giving her daughter to Fletcher in exchange for $200 to “clear her debts.”
After his story was published, Mr. Drummond said, “I got calls from three of his other victims—they were very emotional.”
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